Tuesday, 6 January 2009

EU politics: Czech Council in tray

Today the Czech Government published its Work Programme for the EU Council Presidency running from 1 January to 30 June 2009. Europe without Barriers is the theme for the programme, available here:


The Czech Republic’s stint at the head of the Council of the European Union occurs in the middle of the second 18 month Presidency trio programme, drafted by France, the Czech Republic and Sweden. Especially the later Presidencies have reasons to update the joint programme, but their own programme offers certain possibilities to underline their own priorities.

In addition to the motto – Europe without Barriers – the Czech Government tries to catch attention by three Es: Economy, Energy and the European Union in the World. These are presented as priorities of the Czech Presidency.

Knowing that the Czech Parliament has not approved or even voted on the Treaty of Lisbon, we are served the following enlightening sentence on the introductory page:

The issue of institutional reform, connected to the future of the Lisbon Treaty ratification, is a task of no lesser importance for the efficient functioning of the European Union and its internal and external policies.


Why should anyone read this Presidency programme voluntarily?

The European Union has a lot of dossiers moving (or not) at any given time, so the Presidency programmes can be read as valuable refreshers on where different issues stand from the Council’s point of view.

After the introductory (thematic) pages, the following 28 pages offer the reader a glimpse of the Council’s in tray for the coming six months. The Czech programme is divided into 16 policy areas and these into 84 further sub-headlines in all.

Consequently, the treatment is brief, concentrated or bland (however you want to see it), almost telegraphic in style.


Following the age old custom of writers to carp, let me pick one introductory phrase (on page vii): The EU is a significant global player…

Are Hamas and Israel listening?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. As a reminder to mainstream media: In spite of hype the which has surrounded Nicolas Sarkozy, the Czech Republic has not taken over the EU Presidency, just the Presidency of the EU Council, one of the main three political institutions of the European Union, even if arguably the most important one.